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Idle power control

Posted by admin on Nov 3rd, 2008
Nov 3

Due to a recent article on TreeHugger about BestBuy’s naming October 30th as “Vampire Awareness Day” (referring to the idle, or phantom, power consumption of the plugged-in-but-not-in-use electronics in our homes), it brought to mind a few items I had acquired a few years ago that I had completely forgotten about. I have a whole box of unused X10 lamp and appliance controllers just sitting in the garage.

Doing a quick check of the X10 website shows that the prices of the wall modules are still relatively inexpensive. Most of the modules are just plugged into an outlet then the electronic device – be it a tv, stereo, computer, etc – is plugged into the module. Then, using an ifra-red remote, the power to the device can be cut off at the wall, potentially saving a lot of phantom power usage. X10 also has wall outlets as well which allows for whole outlet to be disabled whenever needed. The other benefit to having such a device is for when we are away on a vacation. I can control the modules from my computer so I can turn on/off the lights for security. Pretty nifty.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be installing many of these modules wherever I feel they may be useful. I’ll update on my progress and document the pro’s and con’s of the devices (and have pictures!). I think I’m going to do a trial run with a specific appliance, maybe a spare Xbox I have, and plug it in for a week with my Kill-A-Watt attached to see what kind of energy consumption it uses while powered off (for the entire week). Then the next week I’ll use an X10 module to cut the power for 10-12 hours a day and compare the difference. That should at least give me a basic baseline comparison. It would be difficult to get a consistent comparison with something that is randomly being used for varying periods of time – like the tv or the microwave.